As it meets this week in Houston, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is considering changes to how the Gulf red snapper fishery is allocated, or shared, between the commercial sector and the recreational sector. The change is called Amendment 28, and we recommend that the Council take a cue from medical ethics, which teaches physicians to “first, do no harm.”
We understand that managing the fishery is a tricky and political process. But Amendment 28 will do little to help recreational fishermen and will certainly do harm to the local seafood industry in the Gulf and the millions of Americans who buy, sell and enjoy fresh Gulf snapper in restaurants and grocery stores around the country.
Most of the fishing businesses that harvest fish to supply restaurants and grocery stores with Gulf seafood are small businesses. These “commercial fishermen” share the annual catch for Gulf fish with individual fishermen, charter captains and guides — together known as the “recreational fishing sector.” For Gulf of Mexico red snapper, the division between seafood and recreational sectors is nearly right down the middle — 51 percent to 49 percent. A proposal before the council would shift (reallocate) more of the total catch to the recreational sector at the expense of everyone else.
Just a few years ago, the snapper fishery was near collapse. But thanks to painful but necessary catch limits, a cooperative approach and some new ideas, local seafood businesses like ours have rebounded. We now have more flexible schedules, harvesting costs have gone down, fresh snapper is available at restaurants year-round and the number of red snapper in the Gulf continues to climb. All great news.
Read the full story at the Destin Log>>